For the May Day holiday, Krista and I found ourselves heading to the city of Nanjing to see the sights and experience a little more of Chinese history. Two of the attractions we saw were the Han Zhong Gate and the Confucius Temple.
Our effort to see these things was met with confusion, frustration and poor weather. We did not take into account that it was a Chinese holiday and how much it would rain. This meant that the streets were crazy with traffic and public transportation was nearly unusable. It was a cold day of walking that accidentally led us to the first part of our journey.
While trying to find the Confucius Temple we stumbled upon the Han Zhong Gate (Chinese Middle Gate). Even considering the rain and crowds on the subway, the old walls were very much worth the trip. The weather finally worked in our favour making the grounds of the Ming Dynasty construction nearly empty.
The Han Zhong Gate was a very peaceful spot. It is off the beaten path. Not a big tourist attraction such as a few of the other places we could have seen. The ivy hanging off of the walls of the old gates and the small kept lawns were pretty. The only sounds came from a group of old Chinese men under one of the gates playing chess and the rain dropping from the 15-metre walls. The Gate that pierced it is a relic of ancient China that made it into the 21st century — something that not a lot of China’s culture can boast.
We finally made it to the Confucius Temple sometime in the mid-afternoon when the rain began to taper off. For very similar reasons the grounds of the Temple were vacant and we were able to explore at our leisure. The steles that show the teachings of the famous teacher were in giant glass cases everywhere. Chinese characters engraved in the stone plaques can still be seen and studied by anyone willing to look. The Music Hall and the Hare’s Spring still function and there are numerous offering bowls to throw coins in to make a wish.
The highlight of the journey for me was a replica of a bell that called the students to class 2,000 years ago. It sits in the same spot that its predecessor did and for a small price you can ring it with a giant bell hammer. No students magically appeared in time for class though, which was somewhat disappointing. Nonetheless, this part of Nanjing was fun. It is not often you can read the words of a philosopher as big as Confucius.